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How to love your liver - and why to

Posted Jul 13 2013 1:15am
Tucked away in the upper right hand corner of your abdomen is your liver, a sensitive organ that can greatly affect whether you glow with vibrant health, or you trudge through your day feeling like you’re carrying around your own rubbish dump. 

Structurally, your liver resembles a sponge, with blood continuously flowing through for processing and cleaning. Fat soluble toxins are removed, then packaged, dissolved in bile, and released into your intestines. The bile/toxin molecules attach to soluble fibre from food and are carried out of your body. That’s one role, but your liver has lots of other jobs to do too. It stores some fuel as glycogen, ready to top up your blood glucose levels temporarily. It breaks down excess hormones and disposes of them. It manages your blood cholesterol level, creating cholesterol bundles for despatch (lipoproteins).

You can make life for your liver easier, or harder.  One way to make life a misery for those hard working liver cells is to drink too much alcohol. During digestion alcohol produces acetylaldehyde, a toxic poison. As with other toxins, your liver can easily cope with small amounts; but large amounts of alcohol, either daily or in a binge, can easily overwhelm your liver’s capacity. As a result, fat cells may be formed within the organ itself. Lazy things, those fat cells. They just sit around, take up space and get in the way. You know where this story is going: Eventually the excess poison in your system kills off hard working liver cells and you can become chronically ill.

Exposure to other poisons like environmental chemicals create problems for your liver in the same way that alcohol will; overwhelming it. This is why having a poorly functioning liver feels like you’re carrying around your own personal rubbish dump.

With all that work to do, your liver needs a big energy supply; so it relies heavily on nutrition from protein, plus vitamins and minerals. A good supply of soluble fibre is essential too, so those toxins can be removed from your body. Without fibre, the toxins can tend to be re-circulated for yet another processing, further exacerbating any overload. 

There are lots of ways to help your liver work more efficiently. It’s a most forgiving organ, so you’ll start feeling rewarded pretty quickly. Firstly, keep your alcohol and caffeine intake within acceptable limits (or cut them out completely for a while to give your liver a rest). High quality food provides high density nutrients that your liver needs to work well: protein, fresh vegetables, fresh fruit. Fasting can actually be counter-productive, as your liver won’t have access to its usual supply of raw materials to do its work. 

A liver lover’s diet includes one or two pieces of fresh fruit every day, a salad as a main meal, some high quality animal protein, and not too much caffeine or alcohol. 

If you enjoyed this article, you might also enjoy this article about foods your liver will love...and hate

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